So Smooth

Vegas Seven speaks with the voice behind Santana

For two years, Carlos Santana has been the natural figurehead of his rock ’n’ roll residency at the Hard Rock Hotel, Supernatural Santana: A Trip Through the Hits. But Tony Lindsay, one of the show’s two lead vocalists, is just as much a star. His high-energy vocals and dance moves act as a balanced counterpoint to the mellow guitarist, who often retreats to the corner while he plays. For 21 years, this partnership has worked—it’s even resulted in 11 Grammys for Lindsay. In addition to touring and other projects, the vocalist worked on Santana’s most successful album, Supernatural. Now that the Trip Through the Hits has almost reached its May 1 finish line, Vegas Seven snagged a chance to find out more about the Bay Area-based singer.

Before you joined Santana, were you a Santana fan?

I was definitely into the music, but it didn’t hit me until I got in the band how powerful this stuff is. I was more in the R&B and jazz scene, which is a whole different thing.

Was it surreal when you auditioned and got the gig?

I was kind of thrown off for a second; I didn’t expect it. I was in the process of doing other stuff, getting a record deal on my own. That’s probably why I got it. I was completely relaxed and like, “Hey, if I don’t get it it’s all right.”

When you’re not singing with Santana, do you work on your own projects?

Yeah, I never stop. You gotta have your own identity, you gotta keep going. It’s good to have that balance. Some people, when they get that good gig, they put their own thing on the back burner, so that’s why when I’m off the road I keep working. Then when I did have a little break I [sang for] Dancing With the Stars. I did three road tours with them.

Do you and the band have any pre-show rituals?

We get together, usually in Carlos’ dressing room, and take 10-15 minutes to get our focus together and give thanks to all the wonderful things that we have and hope that we put a good show on for everybody. It’s very rare that people aren’t completely satisfied.

When you tour with Carlos is it a spiritual experience?

Everyone has their own ways of meditating and getting themselves ready for a show. Hopefully we all believe in God, because there definitely is one. Anyone that thinks that everything created around us is by man, you’re kind of foolin’ yourself. You can just look up in the sky, the trees; we got nothing to do with this stuff. We got a really good mixture of band members and everyone’s got their own little quirky things; it works for us.

What’s next for you?

I have two new songs. One is called “Fun In the Sun,” we’re shooting a video sometime in May. Another one called “Stand By Me.”

Anything you’ll miss about the Vegas residency?

Just like everywhere else you go so many times, and you feel like it’s another house you have. I’m sure we’ll be back.

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